There space plenty of good reasons to protect against Africa’s best-known predators, numerous of castle sticking out of the end of your paws. Claws are prefer nature’s Swiss military knife; native climbing, to gripping, come digging, come slicing, these adaptable appendages aid animals make it through in the wild, whether they’re play defense, offense, or simply playing around!

Fact: Claws are various than nails

Though they’re do of the very same substance, keratin, biologist distinguish between claws and nails. Both prosper from the end of digits (fingers and toes), yet claws room curved and pointed, whereby nails are flat and also dull.

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Fact: hundreds of mammal types have claws

Many of united state associate the idea that claws with big cats (or, for those of us who’ve checked out Jurassic Park, velociraptors), but species ranging from bears to dogs to weasels space equipped through these valuable tools. Castle often appear in unexpected places; in fact, the largest clawed carnivore no a large cat, or even a soil mammal: that a types of elephant seal!


They might not look together scary as a lion, tiger, or bear, but elephant seals have actually claws, too!“Mike” Michael L. Baird , via Wikimedia Commons

Fact: every cats have retractable claws

Big or small, terrifying or just cuddly, every cats’ claws have actually a special feature: castle retractable. Cats only have their claws out once they typical to, because that hunting, obtaining traction against the ground, or climbing tree (to name just a couple of claw functions). This helps defend the claws against wear and tear.

Cheetahs are an exception to this rule…almost. These sprinters’ claws have to be at the all set at all times, so the they can take off at a moment’s notice (the claws help to save them from slipping at high speeds). However, they’re still semi-retractable; even cheetahs should rest up between heats.

Cats share this distinct feature through a grasp of viverrids (a family members of animals often mistakenly identified as cats), including the afri civet and the genet.

Unlike most big cats, a cheetah’s claws just partially retract.By marko8904 (<1>) , via Wikimedia Commons,

Fact: part hooves room really claws

A hoof is technically a pond that’s grown big enough to support an animal’s weight, yet in even-toed ungulates—a group of pets that includes giraffes, antelopes, pigs (including warthogs), and also even hippopotamuses—one fifty percent of the cloven hooves that specify the group can it is in accurately referred to as a “claw.”

Fact: There space claws, and also there space claws…

A traditional claw will help a mammal, reptile, or bird (on i beg your pardon it’s called a “talon”) hunt, climb, dig, or defend itself. But there are devoted claws that serve just one purpose…or none at all! Protosimians, such as galagos (a.k.a. Bushbabies) have what are recognized as toilet claws. Flattened, and also duller than common claws, toilet claws are supplied specifically (and exclusively) for grooming.

Dew claws space another kind of claw, attached to vestigial digits. These claws aren’t in line through the others, and also no much longer touch the ground. Cats might use dew claws while attacking prey, yet dog species, and many hooved animals, don’t usage them because that anything.

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Bush Babies, like the one pictured here, usage toilet claws for grooming.Photo: Thomson Safaris guest, wilhelm Wolff